Can you do it?

By Andy Knaster,, 11 December 2018

Most people, when they look to make their first firearm purchase, think about things such as caliber, make, model, action, etc.  If you are buying a gun purely for going to the range and developing skills as a shooter, then you are asking the right questions.  However, if you are looking to buy a firearm for self-defense, there is a question you must ask before asking any of those.  The question is simple, “can I take a life?”

Two scenarios to ponder before you answer the question

Scenario 1: A big burly guy has broken into your house.  He has a gun and he is pointing it at you.  You have a gun in your hand.  Can you shoot and kill him without the least reservation?

Scenario 2: A skinny girl, maybe 14 to 15 years old is running up the stairs at you carrying a butcher knife that she got from your kitchen.  You have a gun in your hand.  Can you shoot and kill her without the least reservation?

For most gun owners, scenario 1 is an easy “yes.”  I suspect that many people would have a bit harder decision to make for scenario 2.  I have to be completely honest with you.  If you can’t answer “yes” to scenario 2 as easily as scenario 1, you should strongly consider using a less lethal solution for home defense because, in either scenario, the perpetrator will kill you without mercy if you do not act. 

When I was a young combat officer in training, this is one of the first scenarios I had to answer.  My Military Science instructor, a multiple tour veteran of the war in Viet Nam, told us that it was a regular occurrence, where young children, bereft of their families, would take up arms against American soldiers.  The only valid response in that case is “kill or be killed.”  As heartless as that sounds, your family wants you to come back home.

OK, so I can’t kill any aggressor, now what?

First of all, do not look down or yourself or call yourself a wimp.  I was taught to take a life without thought at age 18.  When you are a buck private infantryman, that’s what they pound into your head.  It changes you for life. Second, consider alternatives.

Layer your house in security

Gun ownership or not, you should do this anyway.  The objective of layering your house in security is to reduce its appeal as an easy place to hit. 

  • Get a monitored alarm system and plant lots of signs around your house that advertise the system.
  • Get a dog with a good stout bark.  It does not have to be a Rottweiler or a German Shepherd.  It just needs to bark good and loud when it detects a stranger. 
  • Install active lighting.  Only the stupidest burglar wants to be seen.
  • Trim your hedges so there are no places for burglars to hide.

Arm yourself with less lethal weapons


If you are going to arm yourself defensively, be sure that you can use what you choose with doubting.  Doubting leads to hesitation and hesitation, in an armed encounter, leads to your death.


The opinions reflected here do not constitute legal advice nor professional consultation.  You are responsible for the choices you make and to abide by the laws of the place you live.

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